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Anxiety and natural therapies

Many people use complementary medicine and therapies (CMT) to help manage their anxiety. But these should only be prescribed by a health practitioner trained in their use.

If you do use complementary medicine and therapies, it’s important to share this information with your doctor as some herbal remedies can affect other prescribed medicines.

Topics on this page

Herbal remedies

The following herbal remedies may help with anxiety, but more research is needed to understand their effectiveness.

  • St John’s Wort – for managing depression.
  • Kava – to reduce short-term anxiety symptoms.
  • Ashwagandha – for stress and anxiety.
  • Passionflower – to reduce stress, sleep problems, anxiety and depression.
  • Valerian – to help with sleep problems associated with anxiety and stress.
  • Lemon balm – to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Chamomile – to reduce moderate to severe anxiety symptoms.


Certain vitamins and minerals have been associated with a lower risk of anxiety. These include:

  • B vitamins – these vitamins have a positive effect on anxiety symptoms. One study showed that people who ate foods rich in vitamin B had improved anxiety symptoms, compared with those who didn’t. Research also shows that people with low levels of vitamin B12 are more likely to have depression or anxiety.
  • Amino acids – some amino acids (e.g. L-theanine, L-lysine and L-tryptophan) have been shown to improve sleep, anxiety and mood when taken as supplements. These amino acids can be found in green tea, meat, fish, dairy, legumes, fruit, vegetables, milk, poultry, cheese and oats.
  • Fish oil – omega-3 oils help regulate different hormones and chemical messengers (e.g. dopamine and serotonin). These oils are naturally found in some seeds and fatty fish. When taken as supplements, these oils may reduce anxiety symptoms.
  • Magnesium – magnesium may help regulate the pituitary and adrenal glands, which are responsible for your response to stress. A research review found that magnesium may reduce anxiety. But the quality of existing evidence is poor and more studies are needed.


Research shows that a healthy, balanced diet with vitamins and nutrients including magnesium, zinc, vitamins B, C and E, and omega-3 fatty acids may help with anxiety.

A balanced diet means eating foods from the five main food groups, including:

  • two serves of fresh fruit
  • at least five serves of fresh vegetables, including legumes and beans
  • wholegrain cereals and bread
  • lean meats and chicken, eggs, fish, tofu, nuts and seeds
  • dairy foods (e.g. milk, cheese and yoghurt).

You may also benefit from limiting:

  • refined carbohydrates
  • saturated fats
  • processed foods (e.g. cakes, biscuits and fast food).

More research is needed to understand how diet affects anxiety. But a healthy diet is likely to improve your overall wellbeing. Talk to a health professional for more information about healthy eating.

Download our fact sheets or visit resources for more information.

This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at September 2022.

This con­tent has been reviewed by a group of med­ical sub­ject mat­ter experts, in accor­dance with Jean Hailes pol­i­cy.

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Last updated: 
19 January 2024
Last reviewed: 
19 September 2022

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